University of São Paulo: Mass tourism on the coast can open space for the inclusion of traditional communities

Mass tourism on the coast is one that evokes the need to promote the social inclusion of all those involved in tourist activities, as well as to contribute to the conservation of nature. Professor Sidnei Raimundo, from USP’s School of Arts, Sciences and Humanities (EACH), explains the importance of this type of tourism in an interview with Jornal da USP in Ar 1st Edition.

Since the end of the 18th century, according to the professor, the coast has had a great appeal, attracting populations to enjoy it. Before that time, the sea was a place of repulsion, as it was where the barbarians invaded Europe, that was the medieval imagination. He says that the view of the sea ceased to be dark in the context of the Industrial Revolution and the French Revolution, a period that generated a new type of person, who liked to travel for the pleasure of living in environments different from everyday life.

From that moment on, the sea became an attraction reinforced, even by some sciences, such as oceanography, which at the time defended that there were no terrifying creatures in the seven seas, as medieval man imagined. Another example is medicine, which began to recommend bathing in the sea so that people could be cured of modern diseases. “That’s how a rush to the coast began and a change in attitude began: he began to experience the sea as he does today, we need to always be there, meeting it again. The sea offers a set of sensations, it has the wet, the cold of the water, the hot of the sand, enjoying there is part of the current human sociability that derives from the set of activities linked not only to bathing in the sea,but also to water sports and fishing, for example. This race started to be called mass tourism”, explains Raimundo.

The professor describes that initially the elites began to visit the coastal strip and then spread to all social strata, both in Brazil and in Europe. From the last century, there was a great set of incentives for the layers of workers to start traveling towards the ocean. Mass tourism reached its peak, as a model, in the Second World War until the mid-70s of the last century, when there was an increase in capital investment in the coastal strips due to the rampant urbanization in this area, according to Raimundo. “There was no environmental concern, but only economic interest. It is important, but this generates an artificialization of the coastal landscape with the increase of an infrastructure that had no concern with aesthetics, much less with the environmental issue.”

Social inclusion

Another aspect of mass tourism is the attention to the social inclusion of those traditional communities that still remain on the coast, such as the caiçaras and jangadeiros. These communities, which learned in a historical process to interact with the environment, are knowledgeable about the environment. “However, they were incorporated into large tourist enterprises (for example, hotels and restaurants) as janitors, dishwashers, among many other subaltern activities, a form of inadequate social inclusion. This is the great challenge facing us in the 21st century”, says the professor.

Regarding environmental issues, the professor points out that it is necessary to guarantee tourist use in the coastal strip without interfering with the limits of nature, its ability to self-recover. For this, he needs to analyze the environmental impacts of a multidisciplinary team, evaluating to guarantee adequate spaces for nature to coexist with human beings. That is, where nature is more resilient, it can enable a greater number of human interferences. To avoid much environmental damage, the professor also suggests more sustainable tourism, for example, prioritizing canoe or motorized boat trips, which harm nature less.

As for the issue of social inclusion, the professor points out the “urgency of the participation of traditional populations in the decision-making processes, as to what tourist activities will be like. In addition, it is necessary to encourage more critical and creative tourism, so that it contributes to the cleaning of the oceans”.

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